Green tea has been touted as a health food item for some time now. However, that view has recently gained some backbone. A study by Pennsylvania State University has confirmed the anti-carcinogenic effects of consuming green tea.
According to this new study, the consumption of green tea has preventative effects against chronic diseases, which includes cancer.
“Consumption of green tea (Camellia sinensis) may provide protection against chronic diseases, including cancer. Green tea polyphenols are believed to be responsible for this cancer preventive effect, and the antioxidant activity of the green tea polyphenols has been implicated as a potential mechanism.”
This connection was initially found in a 2002 study that facilitated the preliminary discovery that not only did green tea have these chemopreventative benefits, but that the very same component that kills the cancerous cells strengthens normal cells’ defense mechanisms.
“The results showed that green tea and its constituents selectively induce apoptosis only in oral carcinoma cells, while (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) EGCG was able to inhibit the growth and invasion of oral carcinoma cells. These differential responses to green tea and its constituents between normal and malignant cells were correlated with the induction of p57, a cell cycle regulator.”
In order to solidify this initial find, the research team at Pennsylvania State grew cancerous and healthy oral cells in petri dishes and later introduced EGCG to both. The team was able to determine that the process by which the cancerous cells were terminated began in the mitochondria of said cells.
Study author Joshua Lambert, M.D., ensured that the study be sound by utilizing levels of EGCG that would be found when consuming green tea.
“We designed the study to use concentrations of EGCG that are achievable in the oral cavity, and we looked at normal, oral leukoplakia (a precancerous lesion), and oral cancer cells to get an idea of what the effect of EGCG would be on different stages in the oral cancer development process.”
The main concern now is how to capitalize on this newfound knowledge. Oral cancer will cause more than 8,000 deaths this year alone, while roughly 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease.
Clearly, sipping a cup of green tea a day is easier on the body than chemotherapy. In that, “if future human clinical trials are positive,” Lambert indicates, “green tea could be useful in preventing the development of oral cancer, as well as preventing recurrence in people that have had surgical or chemotherapy treatments.”
[Featured image courtesy of Reuters/Toru Hanai]